04-16: Apple is reportedly planning to start using its own 4G modem; TSMC and UMC both expanding their 28nm production; etc.

Chipsets

Apple is reportedly planning to start using its own 4G modem, abandoning Qualcomm’s product soon. Apple has allegedly started developing its 4G modem for 5 or 6 years now, and samples would be ready in 2H17. In 2018, Apple will begin using its own 4G modem. (Qudong, IT Home)

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Foundry vendors expanding their 28nm production to compete in mid-to-low smartphone market. TSMC and UMC both expanding their 28nm production. In 2016, SMIC’s 28nm production not even 1% of the global market, compared to TSMC’s 66.7%, GlobalFoundries’ 16.1% and UMC’s 8.4%, there is a huge gap. (Laoyaoba, EE World)

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TSMC has revised downward its forecast for 2017 global foundry growth to 5% from 7% due to elevated inventory in the supply chain. TSMC’s less-optimistic revenue outlook for 2Q17 reflects “a quite severe inventory adjustment by our customers, particularly in smartphone and PC markets,” said company co-CEO Mark Liu. TSMC expects to post a 8%-9% sequential decrease in consolidated revenues for 2Q17. (EE Times, Digitimes, press, Laoyaoba, CNYES)

Touch Display

The world first 12” liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) packaging and testing line in Songjiang Export Processing Zone constructed by OmniVision is put into mass production. LCOS has high resolution with low price and reflective imaging features, mainly used in wearable device, AR / VR, medical, automotive and other categories. (Laoyaoba, Sohu)

PMOLED panel maker RiTdisplay has expanded monthly production capacity from 15,000 glass substrates originally to 18,000 units, and will further expand monthly capacity by 40% to 25,200 glass substrates at the end of 2017, company president and CEO DC Wang said. RiTdisplay has no substantial competitors in the below 2” PMOLED panel segment and aims to keep benefiting from the niche market, Wang said.  (Digitimes, press, OLED-Info, China Times)

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There were 59.6M TV panels shipped globally in 1Q17, decreasing 0.8% on year, but the corresponding total panel area of 31.8M square meters increased 11.7% on year because the average size per panel increased 0.8” from the preceding quarter to 44.2”, according to China-based Sigmaintell Consulting. (Digitimes, press, Sigmaintell, press)

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Touch panel industry has been going through a tragic reshuffling, and many manufacturers have exited the market. Putting aside TPK-KY, the rest of the vendors have performed well in 2016—GIS-KY’s annual earnings pre share was NTD9.39, Transtouch’s was NTD5.01 (a new record for the company), Mildex’s was NTD1.78 (the best in past 9 years). For YoungFast who has suffered lost for years, in 2016 its lost is shrunk to only NTD1.01. (China Times, Laoyaoba)

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Camera

Sony is announcing the commercialization of a new 2.45 effective megapixel CMOS image sensor for automotive cameras, the IMX390CQV type 1/2.7. Sony will begin shipping samples in May 2017. It is equipped with an LED flicker mitigation function that reduces flickering when shooting LED signs and traffic signals, as well as an HDR function capable of 120dB*2 wide dynamic range shooting. (Laoyaoba, The Verge, Sony)

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Memory

According to IC Insights, the DRAM average selling price has been increasing very rapidly since mid-2016—the DRAM ASP increased 54% from USD2.41 in Apr 2016 to USD3.70 in Feb 2017.  As a result of this big increase, IC Insights raised its 2017 DRAM market forecast to USD57.3B, which is a 39% increase over 2016.  IC Insights believes that DRAM ASPs will continue to trend upward through most of 1H17, though probably not as rapidly as they did between the period from Apr 2016 to Feb 2017. (IC Insights, press, Laoyaoba)

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Worldwide semiconductor revenue is forecast to total USD386B in 2017, an increase of 12.3% from 2016, according to Gartner. Favorable market conditions that gained momentum in the second half of 2016, particularly for commodity memory, have accelerated and raised the outlook for the market in 2017 and 2018. However, the memory market is fickle, and additional capacity in both DRAM and NAND flash is expected to result in a correction in 2019. (Gartner, press, Laoyaoba)

Japan’s Toshiba is reportedly likely to win creditors’ approval for offering its prized memory chip business stake as collateral for new loans and loan commitments worth around JPY1T (USD9.2B). (Laoyaoba, US News, Yahoo)

Sensory

Renesas Electronics is heralding the launch of Renesas Autonomy, a newly-designed advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving platform. Amrit Vivekanand, vice president for automotive business at Renesas Electronics America, stressed that his company’s autonomous vehicle platform stands apart from its competitors because, “This is an open platform.” (TechNews, Renesas, Leiphone, EE Times)

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Connectivity

Ericsson and Telefonica showcasing its remotely driving 5G application. Ericsson director Arun Bansal indicates that according to the curreng 5G development roadmap, it is expected before 2018 they will have a more complete 5G technology standard, and expects to standardize 5G specification by 2019. In 3 years, 5G will begin commercialization. (Laoyaoba, EE World, IT Home, Global Telecom Business)

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USB Type-C business is growing fast. Devices that equipped with Type-C connector can be used to transfer data or video, and charging with 100W electricity. It has opened a new milestone. (Laoyaoba, MEM, EE World, article)

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Smartphones

Worldwide mobile game revenue from iOS and Google Play stores grew 53% to USD11.9B, according to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence. But Google Play revenues are growing at a much faster rate than Apple’s, at 83% versus 35%. (VentureBeat, Sensor Tower, blog, 199IT)

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PCs / Tablets

Although Asustek Computer only shipped around 4.2M notebooks in 1Q17, the company’s profits remained strong thanks to increased product ASP, according to sources from the upstream supply chain. Asustek has been shifting its focus to models with higher gross margins such as 2-in-1 devices, its ultra-thin ZenBook-series and gaming notebooks.  (Digitimes, press, CNYES)

Wearables

Magic Leap has reportedly acquired Texas-based FuzzyCube Software, a mobile developer that has worked on apps such as Temple Run 2 and Epic Loot. The acquisition was made in an effort to boost content creation for Magic Leap.  (UploadVR, Business Insider, 36Kr)

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Virtualitics has raised USD4.4M to provide analytics for VR and augmented reality applications. Virtualitics has created data visualization and analytics tools for VR and AR. It raised the money in a round led by The Venture Reality Fund. (VentureBeat, The VR Fund, Sohu)

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Internet of Things

The future seems bright for the automobile. A whole host of technologies — including self-driving systems – is set to reinvent the auto industry, making cars more computerized than ever. Bruce Perens, a leading open source advocate, is fear that consumers who buy next-generation cars will face obstacles to modifying or repairing them — like purchasing a smartphone, only far more expensive, with manufacturers in sole control over the tech upgrades. They are proposing that the auto industry consider taking a page from the tech world, and make vehicles more like PCs. (Laoyaoba, PC World, paper, CN Beta)

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Amazon will make the far-field microphone array and voice processing technology found in Amazon Echo available to third-party hardware makers for their own Alexa-enabled hardware. Developers will have access to the same 7-mic far-field development kit on the 3 versions of the Echo, and will be able to integrate Amazon Alexa into their hardware. The free program will be exclusive and invite-only, for OEMs.  (Tencent, ZDNet, Amazon, GeekWire)

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Nissan Motor launched new Serena, a sedan car equipped with in-house-developed ProPilot semi-autonomous driving technology designed for running in single-lane traffic along highways, in the Japan market in Aug 2016, and aims to upgrade the autonomous driving level of ProPilot to running in interchangeable-lane traffic along highways in 2018 and on urban roads with complicated traffic conditions in 2020. (Digitimes, press, Yahoo)

According to the California DMV’s, Apple is the latest among 30 companies who already have permits to test autonomous vehicles on the state’s highways and byways. The permit issued to Apple allows the company to test its autonomous driving technology equipped in 3 Lexus SUVs along with 6 human drivers on California‘s public roads. (163, EE Times, DMV, Forbes)

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